Fans go all out at Westlife concert

By Nghinh Xuan   November 22, 2023 | 02:01 am PT
Fans go all out at Westlife concert
Boy group Westlife. Photo from Westlife's Facebook
Irish boy band Westlife has fired up their crowd of thousands with their singing and dancing during their concert in Ho Chi Minh City.

During the concert at Thong Nhat Stadium Tuesday, they performed over 20 songs, including covers of Swedish group ABBA such as "Money Money Money", "Mamma Mia", "Dancing Queen", along with their worldwide hits such as "I Lay My Love On You", "Season In The Sun", and "If I Let You Go".

Like their other concerts throughout Asia last week, the four members Shane Filan, Mark Feehily, Kian Egan, and Nicky Byrne did not have much time to interact with the audience due to the very short breaks. Instead, they dedicated most of their time into singing and dancing.

Even though their interactions with the audience were brief, they were no less valuable. Shane Filan would occasionally wink at the crowd, and Nick Byrne joked: "Do you still have our poster on the wall? Probably not, because your husbands and boyfriends won’t let you, right?"

While singing "Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You", Mark Feehily did his best to say "I love you guys" in Vietnamese.

For nearly two hours, the popstars excited the crowd. During their performance of "Seasons In The Sun", the crowd danced and sang along to the chorus.

Most of the concert-goers were between the age of 25-40, with many from cities such as Hue, Hanoi, and Hai Phong.

Westlife singing "Uptown Girl". Video by Heather

One of them, 30-year-old Thuy Trang in the Cat 5 section, expressed her amazement after the show. She traveled from Cam Ranh City, Khanh Hoa Province with her 4-year-old son to watch the concert. Trang said that her love for music motivated her to buy tickets to this show. Back in July, she also went to K-pop band Blackpink’s concert in Hanoi.

Le Minh, 27, went to the concert with his girlfriend. In his first music live show, he felt the difference compared to listening at home. The stage effects and energy from the performers made him feel exhilarated.

He added that global artists' interest in coming to Vietnam was understandable as Vietnamese people have more disposable income and there is a rising need for entertainment.

Echoing this opinion, 40-year-old Phuong Thanh said that she likes Westlife, but if they had come to Vietnam a few years ago, she would not have had the money to go. Thanh praised the concert and said she would go again if the group returned.

Tony, 8, attended the concert with his father. He wore a T-shirt printed with the faces of the four members. Tony’s father revealed that he frequently played Westlife’s music in his car and over time realized that Tony loved the group. Though Tony does not remember all the songs, he knows everything about the members, from their birthdays to the highlights of their careers.

From his dream of becoming a businessman, Tony now wishesd to become a singer like Shane Filan.

At the end of the show, Tony said: "The concert was great! I’m just bummed I didn’t get their signatures."

Tony holding his notebook filled with Westlife lyrics. Photo by: Heather

Tony holding his notebook filled with Westlife lyrics. Photo by Heather

Westlife has another show on Wednesday, considered their main concert night in HCMC. Due to overwhelming demand for tickets, the organizers announced in October that they would be opening another show on Nov. 21.

Even with the praise, the show had its issues. Near the start of the concert, a tent was suddenly set up in front of the stage, causing a portion of the audience in the Cat 3 section to have their view obstructed.

They complained and demanded the organizers AMO change their seats or refund their tickets as they could not see the stage. The staff decided to move some of the audience closer to the stage, but most were told to remain in their seats.

AMO’s representatives gave a statement that they did not plan to set up a tent, but Westlife’s producers were afraid that the rain would damage the technical devices and cause malfunctions. The producers apologized for the sudden change and promised that they would have an alternative solution for the show on Nov. 22.

A few days before the concert, AMO announced that they would begin to sell standing-room tickets close to the stage for VND600,000 (US$25) each. This decision was met with criticism by those who had already bought their tickets for much higher prices and in less desirable sections.

The organizers explained that this decision was made to fulfil intense demand and give an opportunity to those unable to buy tickets.

Vietnam is one of Westlife’s stops in the Asian leg of their The Wild Dreams Tour. When ticket sales for the original Wednesday show went live, 15,000 tickets were sold in four hours.

Westlife were formed in 1988 in Dublin, Ireland with five members. The band disbanded in 2012 before reuniting in 2018. The current members are Shane Filan, Mark Feehily, Kian Egan, and Nicky Byrne.

They are the holders of four Guinness World Records, including recognition as the top-selling band in the 21st century in the United Kingdom.

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